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Requiring PTA leaders to get involved in politics?

7 years 8 months ago #159554 by concerned
I would love some input from other PTAs in Georgia and around the country.

Our local PTA council leaders in Georgia had a regularly -scheduled meeting recently with all our local school PTA officers. (Here in Georgia, we have the state PTA, then council level supervision in our metro area, then individual local schools.) I was not at the meeting, but some friends of mine were. They came back from the meeting unhappy about something the council leaders had discussed.

Apparently, the council leaders said they wanted all the local school PTA's to focus on voter registration for the Presidential Election next fall. This was very surprising to me and to my friends. (I guess this idea came from the state PTA level first, but I don't know for sure.)

1) Do any other PTA's expect this (voter registration drives) of their local chapters? Should this really be a priority considering all the other things our local chapters are trying to achieve within their own schools? And, did anyone who ever volunteered with local PTA ever anticipate that this would be one of their duties?

2) While I think they would call voter registration technically a "non-partisan" activity...is it really? I know that voter registration drives tend to target lower income families who traditionally vote for one particular party (since most people in higher income brackets are already registered). While I am all for everyone taking part in the election process, I think it would make me (and probably other parent volunteers) extremely uncomfortable that we are expected by our state/council PTA leaders to go out and sign up people support a party that we don't necessarily support. If people want to volunteer to do that stuff their private lives, that's fine - but expecting PTA volunteers at a public school to do that as part of their responsibilities?

It just seems to me that bringing politics into the school in this manner, and expecting PTA volunteers to do this, isn't a good idea. Does this make anyone else uncomfortable? Has anyone else had similar experiences?
7 years 7 months ago #160021 by TammyHoward
I am struggling with this very issue right now in California. The state PTA wants all of us local units to do the groundwork and get the 500,000+ signatures required to put an initiative that the state PTA supports on the Nov ballot. It is a huge income tax increase to the tune of $10 billion annually! They say it is for education but it is totally backed by the unions, union lawyers etc so we all know where the money will be going. I have done some research and what I am finding is scary, sad and upsetting. The people behind it scare me. I personally do not support the initiative and now I am being asked to not only support it but do the work to get people vote for it! This isnt right!
7 years 7 months ago #160053 by Rockne
Interesting topic.

Whether it's a voter registration drive or a petition drive for a state or national issue, I've often stated and still feel that political activism runs counter to the parent involvement and engagement and community-building roles that are the primary goals of nearly all of the parent groups I talk to.

If you're a PTA, then your group is actively supporting political activism and lobbying, definitely at the national level and oten at the state level. There's nothing illegal about it and the national PTA is very open about its goals and the fact it lobbies, etc.

But your reactions kind of point to the problem as I see it. Most parent groups (and certainly the PTA) tries to get as many members as they can. PTA often has incentives for 100% membership, etc. Almost all of the membership marketing is about the community and the parent involvement and the great stuff parent groups do for kids. Virtually none of it -- especially at the local level -- is about lobbying or taking stances on debatable positions. That's the miss in my mind. Lobbying groups wouldn't be going for(or certainly not expecting) 100% memberships. There's an elelment of bait-and-switch there.

For your local group, it's certainly more than fair to discuss whether a political role -- one that is almost inevitably going to turn off some % of your parents -- is the right fit for your group. There are good models for whatever goals and format your local membership decides is right.

Tim

PTO Today Founder
7 years 1 month ago #161538 by Busy Mama
Wow, this is really shocking to me, and cements my reasoning for holding the line against our fledgling PTO becoming a PTA. Politics has NO part in parent groups. It's too easy to offend people or start creating divisions when it's hard enough to bring them together to help the school. We can all agree that parent involvement benefits everyone and leave it at that.
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